Years ago the girls started cooking dinner for Christmas Eve and so began a tradition. This year they took a little from their Czech and German heritage and based dinner around that. We also had fun learning about the Czechoslovakian Christmas foods and traditions (see info below).
Yes, the girls repeated the Holska Bread, as it was a big hit last year.
Bramboraky (Potato pancakes)
Some fun Christmas Dinner Customs
Christmas Dinner Customs Czech Christmas dinner (December 24) is connected with a great number of different customs, rules and superstitions. Very few of them are still observed today, and for good reason. It must have been quite a challenge to put the dinner together and go through with it without a mistake if all the customs were to be followed! Here are some of them:
– No lights should be lit in the house before the first star comes out. After it does, dinner is served.
– The table should be set for an even number of guests. An odd number brings bad luck or death.
– An extra plate can be used to even out the number of guests. An extra plate should also be prepared in case an unexpected guest or a person in need comes by the house at dinner time.
– The legs of the table can be tied with a rope to protect the house from thieves and burglars in the coming year.
– No one should sit with their back to the door.
– Christmas dinner should consist of nine courses including soup, bread with honey, carp, potato salad,- fruit (dried, fresh or canned), dessert (apple strudel or vánočka – Christmas bread), and other foods.
– No alcohol should be served on Christmas Eve. – No one should ever get up from the Christmas table before dinner is finished. Doing so brings bad luck and death in the family.
– Everyone should finish their dinner and leave nothing on the plate.
– The first person to leave the table after dinner will be the first one to die in the coming year, that is why everyone should get up from the table at the same time.
– Any leftovers from dinner (crumbs, fishbones, etc.) should be buried around the trees to ensure they will bear lots of fruit.
– All household animals should be fed after dinner so that no one goes hungry on Christmas Eve.
The Magical Powers of Foods and Plants
Certain plants, spices and foods are said to have special qualities and have been an important part of Czech Christmas celebrations throughout history.
Garlic – An essential part of Christmas that should not be missing at any Christmas dinner. It is believed to provide strength and protection. A bowl of garlic can be placed under the dinner table.
Honey – Honey is believed to guard against evil. A pot of honey can be placed on the dinner table.
Mushrooms – Mushrooms give health and strength. A traditional meal called kuba, prepared from dried mushrooms, barley, garlic, onions, and spices, used to be served as the main meal in the past. Mushroom soup can be served before dinner.
Sheaf of Grain – A bundle of grain dipped in holy water can be used to sprinkle the house to prevent it from burning down in the next year.
Poppyseed, peas, wheat, barley – If given to the hens on Christmas Eve, lots of eggs will be laid in the coming year.
Vánočka (Christmas bread) – Feeding a piece of vánočka to the cows on Christmas Eve will ensure that there will be lots of milk all year.
Putting a few vánočka crumbs in front of the bee hive will make sure that the bees will produce enough honey next year.
Throwing a piece of vánočka into the well will ensure good quality of the water.
Apple- If the goats are given apples on Christmas Eve, their milk will be sweet.